Chicken salads are convenient, popular and a great vehicle for adding vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, too often they’re heavily loaded with dressing. If you start with moist chicken and add flavorful ingredients that complement the meat, you don’t need much dressing. Grilling the chicken is an easy way to ensure that the meat tastes good. It’s also fast, especially when you buy the thin-sliced chicken breasts or pound whole breasts to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness. It’s an extra step, but it really pays off. The chicken cooks in minutes and stays juicy.
I’m always looking for different twists for this salad. Sugar snap peas have good texture and a wonderful flavor. Grated carrot has natural sweetness and appealing color. The balsamic vinegar brings out the sweetness in the strawberries, which pair surprisingly well with the sugar snaps. I’m also generous with the pepper, because I love the taste and because pepper marries well with strawberries.
This salad is great served warm, but it can be chilled and served cold, if desired.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 8 ounces fresh sugar snap peas, stringed/trimmed and rinsed
- 1 pound thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast, or regular chicken breasts pounded to a thickness of 1/4- to 1/2-inch
- About 3/8 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces (1 pint) strawberries, hulled, then cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 medium carrot, grated (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Fill a large bowl with water and ice.
Steam or boil the sugar snap peas for 3 to 5 minutes, until just tender. Drain them and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then drain and let dry. Leave small sugar snaps whole; cut medium ones in half and larger ones into 3 pieces.
Preheat the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Lay the chicken on aluminum foil or a baking sheet. Sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper to taste over the chicken pieces, then use 1 tablespoon of the oil to brush the chicken.
Place the chicken pieces on the grill; close the lid and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, turning over the pieces once, until they are cooked through and lightly browned. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 10 minutes.
Cut the chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch strips, then into bite-size pieces, if desired. Transfer to a large bowl and add the sugar snaps, the strawberries and the grated carrot. Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt over the salad; toss gently, making sure to distribute all of the oil and vinegar. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Serve warm, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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